by Dennis McGeary

How much would you be willing to give me if I could make you $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, or more every year? Have you ever noticed that people who want to make you money always want to be paid? They all want to be paid before they show you some slick way of supposedly making money, which only ends up making them the money and leaves you poorer. Well, I can’t tell you how to make that extra money, but I can help you save that much every year. The best part? I won’t charge you anything for it. I know how hard you work for what you have, and I want to see you succeed in business. So, let’s explore some ways to save you a lot of money.

With the rising cost of fuel, higher repair bills, and brokers taking an even larger cut, making a living can be tough. However, there are ways to cut your costs. Saving isn’t just about reducing big expenses; it’s about the small ones too. Saving a couple of dollars here and there might not seem like much, but those little savings add up. If you aren’t already doing some of these things, you could be throwing away thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars every year. So, let’s look at how company drivers, independent drivers and owner-operators can save money.

Plan Your Fuel Stops

Fuel is one of the highest expenses a driver will have for the year. Fuel prices fluctuate all the time, but they’re always too high. There’s no reason to pay more than you need to. Take a few minutes to plan out your route. There are programs out there that will charge you to optimize your fuel stops for you. But with the internet, it’s easier than ever to do it yourself. You can go on your phone and compare prices along the way. Using apps like Pilot, Loves, TA, or Mudflap makes it easy to see what the prices are along the route you’re taking. If you’re heading somewhere and you see a stop with cheaper prices, but you can’t make it without getting fuel, then stop and grab just enough to get there. Don’t fill up at higher prices. Even saving $0.50 a gallon can really add up over a year.

Taking Advantage of Reward Points

Whether you fuel at Pilot, Loves, TA, or some small chain, many of these places have reward points. Some are better than others, but these points can add up over time. It may seem small, but if you save them, it can accumulate quickly. At Pilot, the more you fuel, the more points you can get, up to 5 points per gallon. If you fuel at Pilot, you can also use their app to find One9 fuel stops. They work just as a Pilot stop, and if you use a Pilot card, it may be accepted at One9 stops too. Check with the card provider. Plus, One9 locations usually have lower fuel prices, and you get bonus points each time you fuel there.

Use Mudflap for Purchasing Fuel

Fuel tends to be pricier at larger truck stops. By using smaller stops and chains, you can save more, especially with the Mudflap app. This app collaborates with numerous smaller stops to offer additional discounts. You could be saving upwards of $200 a week—amounting to thousands by year-end. Signing up is free, with no contracts or fees, and it supports smaller businesses, not just the corporate giants. Plus, with referral code de8161, you get an extra $10 off your first purchase.

The Unpopular Truth: Slow Down

Let’s address a topic that can really impact your wallet: slowing down. Reducing your speed just 5 mph can save 0.5 mpg in fuel mileage. Imagine this – just going from 6mpg to 6.5mpg could put an extra $4,500 or more in your pocket each year. And a little heads up: the FMCSA is considering governing all trucks at lower speeds, so adapting now could give you a head start.

Avoid Overpriced Truck Stop Supplies

Truck stops know they’re convenient, and their prices reflect that. Planning is key. Consider stopping at Walmart or other retailers for essentials, or buy online and pick up on your home time. Online prices can significantly undercut those at truck stops, and renting a mailbox at a UPS store can secure your deliveries without a home presence.

Cook Your Own Meals

If you have an older truck, consider remodeling to accommodate a refrigerator, microwave, or air fryer. This can save you from spending on fast food and contribute to a healthier diet.

Stay Away from Cash Advances

Discipline in financial management is vital. Avoid cash advances and factoring companies, as they can siphon significant fees from your earnings. Instead, build a buffer to gradually wean off such services.

Take a Paycheck: Smart Financial Management for Owner Operators

As an owner-operator or lease driver, remember you’re running a business. It’s crucial to wear multiple hats – a business owner, a driver, and a bookkeeper. We can help you with the last one. To keep things organized, set up two bank accounts: one for business and one for personal use. The same goes for credit cards – separate them into business and personal. This not only keeps your finances tidy but also looks good to the IRS.

Set a reasonable salary for yourself, akin to what you’d pay another driver. Be modest, especially until your business savings grow. Your business account should cover operational costs, repairs, and maintenance, while your personal account handles your living expenses. Resist the temptation to dip into the business funds, even after a profitable week. These savings are your safety net for unforeseen expenses or downtime.

Remember, owning your truck isn’t just about making more money right away – it’s about building a stable business foundation first.

High-Interest Banking

Your money should work for you. Look for banks offering higher interest rates to maximize your earnings on saved funds. Remember there are online banks that offer higher interest rates than many traditional banks. Look into them and find one that might work for you.

Know Your Contract with Your Carrier

Are you leased to a company? Make sure you’re crystal clear about your contract. Understand the exact percentage you should be paid and what responsibilities fall to you versus the company. Mistakes happen, even with the best companies. I once had a company mistakenly charge me for trailer repairs that, according to our contract, were their responsibility. Because I knew the contract details, I could address this issue and save myself a few hundred dollars. So, always know your contract inside out – it can save you from unnecessary costs.

Know What You’re Owed: Essential for Lease Drivers and Owner Operators

Lease drivers, in line with knowing your contract, it’s crucial to also know exactly what you’re owed. Understand what each load is paying and how much you should be making. If your leasing company isn’t transparent about this before each job, consider it a red flag.

For owner operators, tracking paid and unpaid invoices is key to maintaining your cash flow. It’s easy to miss an invoice in the hustle of work. To help with this, we offer services to keep track of your invoices, sending out monthly reminders to ensure you don’t miss out on getting paid. Staying on top of what you’re owed prevents lost income from overlooked invoices or forgotten payments – an essential part of managing your business finances effectively.

Minimize Reliance on Factoring Companies

It’s tempting to use factoring companies for quick payments, especially when cash flow is tight. But remember, each transaction with them eats into your profits. For instance, 3% off $250,000 in loads annually is $7,500 – that’s a significant sum lost. Instead, focus on building your business’s financial resilience. Start by paying yourself a reasonable salary and reinvesting the rest back into the business. Gradually reduce your dependency on factoring services. Begin by handling a few loads a month without them, then increase that number over time. This way, more of your hard-earned money stays with you, not the factoring company.

Strategic Business Location

You’re not bound to set up your business in the city or state where you reside. Engage an accountant to explore potential tax benefits by relocating your business. Even modest savings can accumulate into substantial amounts. Consider places with no income tax as part of your strategy.

Toll Roads

When possible, bypass toll roads. Despite sometimes being the quicker option, tolls can be exorbitantly high. An extra half-hour detour can save you hundreds, which adds up over time.

Oil Changes

Changing oil less frequently can be a contentious topic, but with advances in oil quality, many new trucks recommend longer intervals between changes. If you’re concerned about filter clogs, consider changing just the filters in between. Doing your own oil changes can also lead to substantial savings over the years.

Keep Meticulous Records for Peace of Mind

Maintaining meticulous records of your income and expenses is more than a compliance requirement – it’s crucial for tax deductions and financial clarity. Digitally backing up your receipts not only prevents loss but also simplifies the tax preparation process.

Using our bookkeeping service ensures that your records are meticulously kept and securely backed up for years. This can be invaluable in case of audits. It’s not just about record-keeping; it’s about giving you peace of mind and saving you time, so you can focus more on the road and less on the paperwork.”

“By implementing these strategies, you could save the amount I initially mentioned, or possibly even more, each year. It’s all about making smart choices and taking advantage of the tools and resources available to you. People often overlook how those little extras here and there can accumulate. It’s not just a few dollars – over a year, these small savings can amount to a significant sum. And think about the long term: over the course of your career, we’re talking about potentially $100,000 or more. Remember, it’s not just about earning more; it’s about saving smartly and recognizing the value in each dollar saved.”

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